The Nature of God

I’m trying to actually catch up on some old things I wanted to post about. I’m not an entirely consistent blogger and often look to outside content for blogging ideas. There is an old post on Daylight Atheism called Whence Comes God’s Nature? It touches on some good ideas as to why I can easily reject the religions of my fellow humans. Even though I’m rather firm in my belief that we don’t know what, if anything, exists in the realm of the supernatural since we are natural, I’m equally firm in my belief that the existing religions are simple creations of our primitive ancestors. Read the entire article at the link above but here are some of the major points I like.

God, so we’re told, is eternal and unchanging. He is pure reason, pure mind, pure spirit – no physical needs to fulfill, no past history, none of the contingent events that make human nature what it is. So how is it that he has, just like us, a complex nature with specific likes and dislikes? He did not undergo the process by which human beings acquire their preferences, so where does he get them from? Why does he prefer things one way and not another?

Read the original post for various examples of gods that would have different major traits and personalities of humans to see how weird it is to think something so supernatural and powerful would be as petty and simple as a human in thoughts and desires.

There’s an interesting parallel here with the “fine-tuning” argument sometimes used by religious apologists. They ask how likely it is that a universe with physical laws conducive to life could just happen to exist with no prior explanation. But atheists can ask an analogous question in return: Out of all the billions of possible gods, each one with a different highly specific and arbitrary set of desires and preferences, how likely is it that there just happens to be one who’s benevolent and kindly disposed toward humans? What prior cause can explain that favorable coincidence?

Out of all of the billions, trillions, etc. of possible supernatural beings or supernatural causes for all of existence to be I’m fairly certain humanity has no clue as to what that really is. But out of all of these possibilities I don’t think it’s enough to just say that I don’t believe in any of the human defined theisms. I think it is much more honest to say that all of humanity definitely doesn’t know. Even though I’m without theism (a-theist), that is why I use the Agnostic label.

5 thoughts on “The Nature of God

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Agnostic Universe » Blog Archive » The Nature of God -- Topsy.com

  2. Sure, there are billions of possible g0ds, but I think there are a much smaller number of *likely* g0ds. Thanks for your post, nice writing style, and more grist to my mill as I continue my agnostic search. :)

    (Have linked to you on my blog)

  3. There are altogether no supernatural phenomena, only supernatural interpretations of phenomena.

    the anti_supernaturalist

  4. ** The “God” of the big-3 monster theisms cannot exist **

    No need to agree with theists or deists or agnostics that “God’s” non-existence cannot be established. When they refer to god(s) to what (if anything) are they referring?

    The incomplete phrase – ‘God exists’ by itself is meaningless. In formal logic that sentence states only “There exists one and only one X such that X is God”

    We can say the same thing about the number zero (0): “There exists one and only Z such that Z is zero.” But, zero can be defined. In the complex number system the statement about zero is true by definition. Zero is the additive identity element: for any number a, a+0=a.

    What kind of entity is God? And what attributes or characteristic does God have that nothing else can share? What makes God a god; moreover what is unique about God that sets it aside from supernatural fictions.

    • Claimants to god-talk must specify just what concept of god they’re playing with. (Dealing with non-rational defenses of “God” requires different approaches not discussed here.)

    Some concepts are simply inconsistent. For example is the concept of god X just like the concept of the round-square? “The” round-square does not exist because its (supposed) concept is incoherent.

    In the Middle Ages an attempt was made to explicate “the” concept of God’s omnipresence by recourse to an analogy drawn from plane geometry. God is like . . . a circle whose circumference is nowhere and whose center is everywhere. Clever stuff.

    But there can be no such circle. Among closed plane figures, the circle shares the property of always being finite. The analogy backfires — well if God’s omnipresence is like that; then, “omnipresence” or “God” or both need a fresh conceptual analysis.

    Another medieval conundrum displaying conceptual limits for any concept of God: “Can an omnipotent God create a stone too big for Him to lift?” To say either yes or no immediately implies that God is not omnipotent. If God’s omnipotence is like that; then, “omipotence” or “God” or both need a fresh conceptual analysis.

    • Stretching language past it limits is a commonplace in discourse about gods.

    Modern philosophy demonstrates here a failure to appreciate the limits of ordinary language. Adjectives are always relative to some context. A context free absolute adjective describes nothing.
    In some contexts an absolute adjective describes nothing. There exists no greatest integer — since for all integers n, there is a unique successor n+1. This is one of Peano’s axioms for arithmetic. Can there exist a “greatest” god? In what context would a reply be made? And why would anyone identify this hypothesized god with God or Allah or YHVH?

    A related gambit is to claim that the word ‘good’ when applied to some alleged divinity does not mean the same thing as ‘good’ when applied to human acts. This vulgar trick exemplifies the fallacy of equivocation or ambiguity.

    At this point, god-talk veers into claims that “human” languages cannot describe God without falling into “paradox.”

    • Most theists, deists, agnostics have no clear concept of “God”. Though the panto-god: all powerful, all knowing, all merciful, will often make its (his, her) appearance. This conjunction of attributes is easy to undermine. Its individual components are conceptually incoherent.

    Epicurus took on the gods by reductio ad absurdum — 300 years BCE — by showing that even a faith-based panto-god is a moral monster. The existence of a panto-god is logically inconsistent with “evil”. The gods, said Epicurus, do exist, but they lead a perfect life removed from human concerns. This is a form of thinking which deists would take up and modify.

    That was 350 years before xian anti-intellectualism became de rigeur. Too bad Jesus’ “Father” did not allow him to get a proper education in philosophy.

    Xianity has spent so much time lying to shore up its failed concept of a “pantocrator” that there’s even a name for this branch of theological special pleading, theodicy.

    Can the negation of an existential claim be proved? Sure. YHVH, God, and Allah simply do not exist because they cannot exist. At the core of the big-3 lies, not exalted “paradox” as Kierkegaard claims, but logical incoherence. There is no rational defense for irrationalism.

    Irrationalism remains a highly honored and widely used gambit of a cult swollen to planet destroying dimensions.

    the anti_supernaturalist

  5. You: “out out of all of these possibilities I don’t think it’s enough to just say that I don’t believe in any of the human defined theisms. I think it is much more honest to say that all of humanity definitely doesn’t know.”

    Since when is it more honest to speak for all of humanity instead of just yourself? That sentence didn’t make sense to me.

    You: “Even though I’m without theism (a-theist), that is why I use the Agnostic label.”

    I use both (agnostic atheist). But for short I say “atheist” because in most cases agnosticism is a given (as in: you can’t be absolutely certain about anything).

    Also, not bringing up the agnostic label might just help avoid the brain-in-a-vat discussion.

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